The Purdue Boilermakers will try to keep their bowl hopes intact this week as they hit the road to take on the no. 12 Wisconsin Badgers. Kickoff is at 4:00 EST on Saturday, November 23 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. The game will be nationally televised on Fox.
Current betting odds list Wisconsin as 24.5-point home favorites over Purdue. The game also has an over/under of 48 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 13 college football odds.
This has been a trying season for the Boilermakers after Jeff Brohm guided them to a bowl game in each of his first two seasons on the job. Key injuries early in the season, including one to starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar, put Purdue in a deep hole. Just a few weeks ago, the Boilermakers were 2-6 and on the verge of a truly disastrous season. However, with their backs against the wall, the Boilermakers have found a way to win back-to-back games over Nebraska and Northwestern to get to 4-6 and keep their bowl hopes alive. Alas, Purdue still needs to beat Wisconsin and Indiana to reach six wins and get to a bowl game.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, still has a chance to win the Big Ten title. The Badgers hit a rough patch in October, losing back-to-back games to Illinois and Ohio State. But they’ve responded with wins over Iowa and Nebraska the past two weeks. They still trail Minnesota by a game in the Big Ten West Division. However, the Badgers will get their shot at the Golden Gophers next week in a game that will likely decide who wins the West and plays in the conference championship game. The caveat, of course, is that Wisconsin first has to take care of business against Purdue. If the Badgers lose this week, beating Minnesota next week won’t be enough to win the West, so they can’t afford to look ahead or have a letdown.
The Badgers are also riding a 13-game winning streak in their series with Purdue. The Boilermakers haven’t registered a win over Wisconsin since 2003. On the bright side, Purdue is getting closer in Brohm’s two seasons, only losing 17-9 when they visited Madison in 2017 and nearly knocking off Wisconsin in a 47-44 thriller last season.
I give Brohm and the Boilermakers all of the credit in the world for winning their last two games and giving themselves a fighting shot at a bowl game. But this has to be the end of the line for Purdue. The Boilermakers are down to their third-string quarterback and going on the road against a Wisconsin that is capable of dominating on both sides of the ball. Admittedly, this is a lot of points to lay down for a team that could be looking ahead. But I like the Badgers to blowout the Boilermakers and cover.
As mentioned, the Boilermakers are down to third-string quarterback Aidan O’Connell after injuries to both Sindelar and Jack Plummer. O’Connell has been good enough to lead Purdue to wins over Nebraska and Northwestern. But he’s also averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt this year. The Boilermakers have no downfield passing game and a rushing attack that’s averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on the season. They’ve managed to manufacture points in their last couple of games, but I’m not sure they’ll have much success against Wisconsin.
The Badgers may have taken a couple of steps back defensively in recent weeks, but they’re still a fine defensive team. Remember, Wisconsin had four shutouts in their first six games. If you take away their loss to Ohio State, the Badgers are still giving up less than 14 points per game against their Big Ten opponents. I don’t think a team with a third-string quarterback and no running game will score many points against that kind of defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Boilermakers figure to have a hard time containing the Wisconsin rushing attack. If running backs could still be viable Heisman contenders in today’s world, Jonathan Taylor would surely fit the bill. He’s posted over 200 yards rushing in back-to-back games, including 250 yards against a strong Iowa defense two weeks ago. He’s already set a career-high with 17 touchdowns and is averaging better than six yards per carry. That’s on top of the occasional threat Jack Coan and the Wisconsin passing attack pose.
I have a hard time envisioning the Purdue defense getting a handle on Taylor and the Wisconsin offense. In fairness, they’ve held their own for most of the season. On the other hand, the Boilermakers allowed 435 totals yards and three touchdowns last week against a dreadful Northwestern offense that’s been held to 10 points or less six times this season. I like how Purdue has defended the run this year, but Taylor and the Badgers are at a different level.
For what it’s worth, I expect the Boilermakers to bring their best effort and put up a fight. However, I have little faith in the Purdue offense to even score as many as 10 points in this game. Meanwhile, the Purdue defense will be hard-pressed to keep Taylor contained all game long. I expect the Wisconsin offense to wear down Purdue and create some explosive plays in the second half that will allow them to cover the 24.5-point spread.